Protecting the skies above the State of Israel is the main mission of the IAF. Part of this mission requires that the IAF adjust itself to the challenges of the day. In recent years, the threat of hostile unmanned aerial vehicles has only increased. This week, the IAF trained for this ever-developing threat
David Greenwald and Shir Cohen
In light of the infiltration of Israeli airspace by a UAV during the Second Lebanon War and in light of the threats of the UAVs that have followed since, the IAF began thought processes about how to cope with the increasing threat. In recent years, the force has initiated a series of training exercises that were designed to train aircrew members for the moment of truth and last week, fighter jet and fighter helicopter squadrons in the force practiced UAV interceptions on Israel’s borders.
The IAF strives to match the simulated threats in the training exercise to a battlefield that only grows more intense and as a result, the aircrews trained for a variety of the most advanced types of UAVs, including a UAV the aircrews had never seen before. “This year, we trained for a different type of UAV: it’s more advanced, faster and spends more time in the air than ordinary UAVs and so it poses a new challenge for the aircrews”, says Captain Avi, ground security officer at the Ramon airbase.
The UAV interceptions were joined by their partners in the mission: the air traffic controllers, who were equipped with detection and alarm systems. During the mission, they are responsible for detecting the small aircrafts in the skies above Israel and continuously tracking them, while directing the aircrews to intercept them. “The training exercise for this specific topic is designed as a preventative measure”, explains Captain Avi. “This is a threat that is steadily getting worse, and so the IAF is not closing its eyes and ignoring it but is preparing for emergencies”.